Today's edition of the Irish times has printed an article about my language learning adventures, and I've had some requests for radio interviews on Irish stations this week. While I'm glad to usually write to an international audience, it's great to see some interest sparked back home! So, welcome to new readers from Ireland!
If you're wondering about a precise explanation regarding how I learn languages, and some encouragement to make it clear that it has nothing to do with natural talent, the best thing you can do is check out my TEDx talk (17 minutes long).
If you are more curious about how I've been travelling for so long, just keep in mind that travel is way cheaper than what you think it is! I've had dozens of different jobs to fund this, but at the moment earn from sales of the Speak From Day One package I created that some readers of this blog decide to get (on the link you'll see a fun video of me speaking my best languages). You don't have to pay me money to progress in a language though – there are so many ways to learn a language without spending a cent.
Also, for articles more relevant to Ireland, one of the most popular posts I've written with almost a million reads has been How to speak English like the Irish, and I've also written specifically about learning Irish (Gaeilge), and made a silly video about it. And the book I wrote has been translated to Irish (as well as 21 other languages) by two native speakers from the Gaeltacht. Last time I was home I recorded some footage of the Fleadh, since it was in my hometown Cavan!
The biggest article on the site by far has been the 29 life lessons learned in travelling the world for 8 years straight.
About every 3 months, I move to a new country and try to learn a new language. I don't promise or claim anything, but I do aim very high and share my progress. At the moment I'm trying to learn Mandarin Chinese to a fluent level in just 3 months. It's pushing me to my limits and I'm working really hard, but sharing my successes and struggles on the blog. So I hope you'll subscribe by clicking the RSS button, joining the email list (both around the top right of the site) or liking the Facebook page!
And most importantly, I hope something on this site will inspire you to give a second language a try yourself – especially considering that my background may not be so different to yours (I did pass Irish for the Leaving Cert and only got a C2 [For non Irish readers, this is half way between a C+ and a C-] in my Leaving Cert German exam, which ironically is the same name (C2) used to describe the highest level exam you can take in the advanced diploma in German that I sat after trying a second time, with just 3 months to prepare!)
In Cavan, we have a weekly meetup on Wednesdays in the Farnham hotel for Irish speakers to practice their level – check out your local library/paper to see if there is something similar near you to speak a wee bit as Gaeilge, and if you live in a bigger city, say hi to a tourist, or do a search on social networking sites to find a native of many other languages to speak with in person.
If you are going abroad soon and are serious about learning the language, don't make the mistake that I made for the first six months I was living in Spain, and speak the language immediately! Make mistakes, the world won't end – extensive research that I've done over 8 years has confirmed this! 😉
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave me a comment below, or to join the very active forums on this site to get advice to any specific questions you may have! All the best from Taiwan!
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.